Paper info: Building relationships within the Russian Toys& Baby-Goods Industry
Building relationships within the Russian Toys& Baby-Goods Industry
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 25th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2009.
The purpose of the paper is to analyze the case of building relationships within the Russian toys & baby-goods industry. After all the macroeconomic and political changes of the past decades in Russia, the industry was heavily damaged. At the beginning of the decade Russian toys & baby-goods producers seemed to have no competitive advantages at all. Their market share has fallen to less than 10% of the fast growing Russian toys & baby-goods market (14 to 20% per year). The situation in the market began to change recently: the most active firms of the industry started to build intensive relationships aiming to raise competitiveness in Russia and abroad. Russian toys & baby-goods producers and retailers started to create win-win situations considering each other as collaborators, not as adversaries. There are some obvious results of such activity. Relational assets built by actors which now appraise the role of intensive relationships helped them to strengthen their consolidated position and to gain governmental support of their initiatives as well as to create new value by combining complementary assets and key competencies. In the paper we present the results of our preliminary research, carried out by means of in-depth interviews conducted with top managers, as well as interviews with industry experts. The study is based on the IMP network approach which offers a solid ground to observe network relationships in which economic actors are involved. Looking at the changes in the industry and analyzing the recent evolution of inter-firm networking, we aim to find out which forms of long-term relationships are the most promising for the industry in modern conditions. What forms of inter-organizational cooperation can better help Russian toys & baby-goods enterprises to gain sustainable competitive advantage and to fight the problems brought by the world economic crisis? The paper is organized around the following topics. Firstly, we focus on the literature on the subject, especially on the papers of the IMP network approach. Then we give a brief overview of the developments in the Russian toys & baby-goods industry pointing out some industry-specific and country-specific features and showing the trend to reappraisal of long-term inter-organizational relationships, regarded now as one of the main factors of success. We also aim to discuss some results of our research paying the main attention to recent initiatives in building inter-firm relationships within industry and their possible effects on the competitiveness and profit-generating capacity of the cooperating actors. Finally, suggestions for future research will be discussed.